SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds hit his 700th home run Friday night, toppling another milestone and edging closer to Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron in his quest to become the greatest slugger in baseball history.
Bonds rewarded his fans in the opener of the San Francisco
Giants' nine-game homestand with an opposite-field homer to left
center leading off the third inning. It came on an 0-1 pitch from
Jake Peavy and gave the Giants a 4-0 lead
over the San Diego Padres.
"It's great that I could do it at home," Bonds said.
As Bonds rounded second base, the Giants launched streamers and a fireworks display from the scoreboard and light towers in center
field. He pointed skyward as he crossed home plate, then took a
curtain call to a joyous standing ovation.
The Giants also unveiled two enormous banners on the light
towers: One featuring Bonds with "700" below him, and another
featuring action shots of Ruth and Aaron and their corresponding
Bonds' 42nd homer of the season is a mere steppingstone in the 40-year-old's march toward Ruth's once-unthinkable 714 and Aaron's 755. Bonds hasn't been slowed by age, steroid suspicions or the collective fear of pitchers and managers walking him with record
The Giants beat San Diego 4-1, and Bonds plans to turn his focus back to the playoff chase after getting a bit stressed by the
scrutiny. Willie Mays, whose 660 homers were passed by his godson
earlier this season, was in attendance.
"The good thing is I get to sleep now and stop having
nightmares about this," said Bonds, who admitted that his 660th
homer meant more to him than this one.
Bonds is the first player to reach 700 homers since Aaron on
July 21, 1973. With good health and similar production, he could
catch Ruth early next season -- and even have an outside shot at
Hammerin' Hank next fall.
Bonds got another big ovation when he walked to left field after the inning. Bonds doffed his cap as the Giants unveiled one more tribute on the outfield wall behind him, a montage featuring the
slogan: "A Giant Among Legends."
The ball was captured by Steven Williams, a 25-year-old fan from nearby Pacifica, in the middle of several fans. The ball rolled
right in front of Williams while he was flat on the ground in the
"I'm looking around, all of a sudden I see this white thing
flying through the sky," said Williams, who plans to sell the
ball. "It's not going to eBay. It's worth whatever somebody will
pay for it."
Aside from a slight chill in the air, the game featured nearly
ideal conditions for Bonds' historic blast.
San Francisco is in a playoff chase largely thanks to Bonds'
offensive production, increasing the importance of every homer. The
slugger loves to face the Padres, who have allowed 79 of his homers
-- 18 more than any other club.
Even the wind was cooperating, blowing out to right field at the Giants' waterfront ballpark. Amphibious fans began gathering well before the game, filling McCovey Cove with dozens of watercraft and ambitious swimmers.
Bonds has said he couldn't imagine ever surpassing Aaron as
baseball's home run king. Aaron believes Bonds will pass him soon
"I think it's just a matter of time -- maybe a year, two
years," Aaron said. "I think he will. I'll be happy. Everybody
will be after him then. They won't be involving me. Records are
made to be broken."
Aaron endured racial epithets and death threats when he
approached Ruth's record in the early 1970s. Bonds has endured
speculation about his super-sized body and bulked-up power
statistics that defy logic and age.
And he has done it all despite the managers and pitchers who are afraid to pitch to him.
Bonds has been walked a record 207 times this season, including a record 105 times intentionally.
Bonds needed more at-bats (9,063) than Ruth (8,169) but not as many as Aaron (11,145) to reach 700 homers. But neither Aaron
(1,232) nor Ruth (1,999) had as many walks as Bonds' 2,276 when
they hit their 700th home run.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment," said Expos manager Frank
Robinson, fifth on the list with 586 homers. "He's going to hit a
lot, lot more. A lot more. It's just a great achievement."
After leaving San Francisco with 698 earlier in the month, Bonds hit just one homer on the Giants' eight-game road trip, which
wrapped up Thursday in Milwaukee. Arizona manager Al Pedrique
mostly refused to pitch to Bonds, though Bonds pulled within one of
the milestone with a ninth-inning homer Sunday.
The Rockies and the Brewers both gave Bonds a chance to hit the historic shot -- but Bonds waited until he got back to the Bay.
Bonds hit career homer No. 660 -- to tie godfather Willie Mays -- and No. 661 at home earlier this season, both against the Brewers. He also hit his 500th in San Francisco in 2001, and later that season broke Mark McGwire's season record by hitting Nos. 71-73 at home the final weekend of the season.
As hard as it has been for Bonds to get hittable pitches lately,
he's more focused on the wild-card race, which the Giants led going
into the weekend. Bonds still holds out hope for his first World
Series ring after falling one game short of the only prize he still
covets in 2002.
Bonds has been so busy dealing with questions about his pursuit of Ruth and Aaron, it's almost as if everybody has forgotten about the steroid scandal that surrounded him when this season began.
Bonds' personal trainer and longtime friend, Greg Anderson, is one of four men charged in an alleged steroid-distribution ring
that federal prosecutors say supplied dozens of professional
athletes with banned substances. They have pleaded not guilty.
If anything, the scandal made him more focused. He's putting up numbers worthy of a seventh MVP award, but he's really thinking